Tuesday, October 23, 2012

42nd ROW80 Check-In

A Round of Words in 80 Days
Round 4 2012

The writing challenge that knows you have a life
I'm doing things quite differently this round.  Since I joined mid Round 2 this year I have been using a blog-within-a-blog format for these check-in posts with updates stacked atop previous updates and commentary added under each goals section including a string of Ns and Ys for the five time investment goals.  This got quite unwieldy by mid round.

So now I've created a Google Doc Spreadsheet to keep track of the Ns and Ys and have set up a ROW80 page to feature the goals sans commentary.  These check-in posts will now contain only the commentary relating to the previous half week, a screenshot of the relevant lines on the spreadsheet and link to the spreadsheet and goals page.  And as of October 23 the READ CRAFT reading lists.


Currently Reading

Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Go by Les Edgerton
Write Good or Die! edited by Scott Nicholson (a collection of essays by inde authors.  many of them self-published)  
The Act of Creation by Arthur Koestler

Recently Read:

A Cheap and Easy Guide to Self-publishing eBooks by Tom Hua read this online
Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Leher
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg  Just finished this today.  This is where I've been getting the most help with learning how to recognize a habit, determine if it is desirable and if so maximize it but if not change it.

View the spreadsheet Google Doc directly
View the goals list

I've got a solid string of Ys for FICTION FILES now--all NaNo prep.  Yay.  Still all Ns for FREEWRITE though.  But I got some ideas now on how to change that.  Thanks to the book I just finished, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.  I'd been reading in it sporadically since early spring but in the last two weeks nearly every day while also doing some deep thinking about how to apply what I've learned.  Also making observations of my behaviors, moods, motivations and results with an eye towards designing amping those that work and ditching those that don't.  But for the latter you must replace with one that does work.

According to Duhigg, "a habit is a choice that we deliberately make at some point, and then stop thinking about, but continue doing, often every day."  They are routines once repeated often enough our brain programs itself to do on automatic pilot and unless we make a conscious choice to insert choice again it isn't part of the habit loop.

Habit loop=cue-> routine -> reward

To change a habit keep the cue and the reward but substitute a different routine.

Some habits, called Keystone Habits are so powerful changing them has a domino effect on other habits.  For example, starting an exercise  routine often leads to changing diet and visa versa and making the bed upon getting up is correlated with increased productivity overall.

But there is a specific framework in which one must work to change a habit which I will quote directly from the appendix of the book::

• Identify the routine
• Experiment with rewards
• Isolate the cue
• Have a plan

Experiments have shown that almost all habitual cues fit into one of five categories:
Emotional state
Other people
Immediately preceding action

One thing that stands out from my observations is that almost nothing in my routines are tied to time.  Not even eating and sleep.  I might stay aware of how close midnight is on the days I've not yet posted so that I can at least get a draft open by 11:59PM gut often I will just fudge the datestamp to reflect pre midnight.  Like I did for this one.  It was only thirty seconds after midnight when I got it open.  But it was 2:44AM on Wednesday by the time I started putting this together.

In the last week I observed only two other instances of time being tied to what I was doing and that was streaming the two presidential debates.

Time for me is as disorganized as my physical and digital files, as the boxes and bags and drawers of stuff I'm still sorting from our December 2011 move, as my clothes, as my mind.  As sleep.

Sleep for me looks something like:  awake for 27 hours>sleep for 6>awake for 30>sleep for 10>awake for 36>sleep for 4>awake for 6> sleep for 3>awake for 19>sleep for 7.....  with occasional awake for 40 and very occasional sleep for 15 to 20.  My average sleep is 4.5 to 6 and my average awake is 18 to 20.

I've tried to force myself onto rigid 24hr schedules before and never succeeded in keep it up for more than a few days at a time and always slid back into the chaos inside a month with nothing but the misery of abject failure to remember it all by.  I determined that will power was not going to work so why even try.

I have struggled with insomnia since early childhood.  I've clear memories of it going back as far as first grade and faint memories of it from as early as age 4.

My sister, her son and my brother's son have all been diagnosed with ADD and my sister suspects our Mom and I would be too if we sought the evaluation.  Though since Mom's 2008 stroke it would be impossible to separate out what was caused by the stroke and what was always there.

But then, when my sister's son was diagnosed with Aspberger's she thought I should be evaluated for that too and suggested our Dad probably had it.

I have been officially diagnosed with anxiety depressive disorder and more than one doctor has contemplated Bi Polar but no definitive diagnosis has ever been made.

Today I slept for 3 hours after being awake for over 20.  I'd started to prepare for bed at hour 15 but got sidetracked after attempting to give our cat Merlin a sliver of roast beef out of my sandwich and when I dangled it over his head he rose up on his hind legs and grabbed the sleeve of my jacket with one paw and slapped at the meat with the other but caught my finer which caused me to let go.  It didn't drop it flew and I don't know in which direction.

I spent the next five hours looking for it in this room I call my office but which all but one corner is a large sorting station with lots of open boxes and bags.  That set-up was working for me even though at a glance it looked chaotic I knew it was getting there and keeping it set up meant I'd be more likely to dabble at it daily whereas keeping it all out of sight between times would mean those times might be weeks apart--or months.

I never found the beef and since I didn't think to close the door to keep Merlin out while I slept I'll never know if he found it unless someday I find it rotting iamong my craft stuff, in my paper files, on a book shelf, or in a box of unsorted misc....

To make matters worse, I can't devote much more time to specifically looking for it as I'm supposed to be packing for my 4 to 6 week visit at my Mom's which commences on Saturday.

But a lot of the craft stuff I want to pack is mixed in with the stuff being sorted.  As are a lot of things I need frequently now.  Like my eye drops.  I lost three hours looking for them after I got up Tuesday evening.  That was one of the reasons I was late getting to this post.

This time though, I didn't just move things about looking in, on and under them.  I started a serious sort session hoping that at least one of the two would show up but I found neither.  I did find a few other things that had frustrated various projects when they went missing in the last month.  It was probably in early October when I rearranged my reading/writing station three times in one week and also set up the first sorting station that was one third the size it is now.

That is a lesson to remember: being able to put your hands on the item you need to do the task you want to do is critical to success.  Of course I've known that for a long time.

Well, my next check-in will be made from my Mom's the night of the trip or the next day.  So I won't be able to work on routines tied to the home environment until I return sometime after Thanksgiving.  But I will work on the iffy habits I developed during my frequent visits there since January 2009 when I started going up to help my sister out after Mom's hip surgery and stroke.

This is the first time I'll be doing NaNo without being able to hole up in my room and tune the word out and hyperfocus when on the clock it suits me.  I told my sister that I was at her service and she should not hesitate to ask, expect, require whatever she needs of me.  So this time I will be like 90% of the other NaNo participants working it around other serious commitments.

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